4 Mar 2012

The State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World

(UNICEF, February 28 2012)
The State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World" focuses mainly on those children in urban settings all over the world who face a particularly complex set of challenges to their development and the fulfilment of their rights. It covers issues as diverse as sanitation, gangs, and governance, incorporating global trends and focusing on individual, concrete examples of positive practices in specific urban neighbourhoods. It outlines a variety of strategies being used to fulfill the needs and rights of children in these contexts, such as identifying and removing barriers to inclusion, ensuring children's participation, and fostering partnerships and networking.
For direct access to the report in PDF format: http://www.comminit.com/clickthru/2c7b54549286e290b1f544508f67ac3c?node=)
Read below for the chapter's summary:

Chapter 1: Children in an Increasingly Urban World (pages 1-12)

"...[A] focus on equity is needed - one in which priority is given to the most disadvantaged children, wherever they live.
* The first requirement is to improve understanding of the scale and nature of urban poverty and exclusion affecting children. This will entail not only sound statistical work...but also solid research and evaluation of interventions intended to advance the rights of children to survival, health, development, sanitation, education and protection in urban areas.
* Second, development solutions must identify and remove the barriers to inclusion that prevent marginalized children and families from using services, expose them to violence and exploitation, and bar them from taking part in decision-making....
* Third, a sharp focus on the particular needs and priorities of children must be maintained in urban planning, infrastructure development, service delivery and broader efforts to reduce poverty and disparity. The international Child-Friendly Cities Initiative provides an example of the type of consideration that must be given children in every facet of urban governance.
* Fourth, policy and practice must promote partnership between the urban poor and government at all its levels. Urban initiatives that foster such participation - and in particular those that involve children and young people - report better results not only for children but also for their communities.
* Finally, everyone must work together to achieve results for children."

Chapter 2: Children's Rights in Urban Settings (pages 13-33)

* "One of the core principles of the Convention [on the Rights of the Child] is respect for and consideration of the views of children. The document recognizes children's right to freely express their views in all matters affecting them and insists that these views be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the children voicing them (Article 12). It further proclaims children's right to freedom of all forms of expression (Article 13). Children are entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 14), to privacy and protection from unlawful attack or interference (Article 16) and to freedom of association and peaceful assembly (Article 15)."

* Perspective: "Out of Sight, out of Reach", by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, UNICEF Eminent Advocate (page 15)

"In a few Arab countries, the fates of disadvantaged urban children are being
rewritten....Amman is one of the region's leading child-friendly cities, with over 28,000 students participating in children's municipal councils to prioritize their needs, rights and interests. The results have been impressive: parks, libraries, community spaces, educational support for children who dropped out of school, campaigns against violence and abuse, and information and communication technology centres for the deaf. Yet for Arab children - for all children - to thrive, nations have to work together."

* Focus on: Mapping Urban Disparities to Secure Child Rights (pages 26-27)

"Gathering accessible, accurate and disaggregated data is an essential step in
the process of recognizing and improving the situation of children in urban areas. Innovative visual representations of information can help identify gaps, prompting action from local decision-makers....Today's computer technology makes it possible to compile simple interactive maps and correlations to show complex information traditionally displayed in columns and tables."

Chapter 3: Urban Challenges (pages 34-47)

* "While child labour is too often premature, exploitative, dangerous and abusive, it is important to recognize that, especially for older children, appropriate work can make a significant contribution to development by building self-esteem, teaching skills and helping children cope with poverty. The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes that children should have increasing autonomy, in line with their evolving capacities."

* "...there is growing recognition of the role children have in helping themselves and their communities to be safe. In the Philippines, for example, school children made a video of the risks in their community and presented it to the local authorities. This resulted in dialogue between adults and children, the planting of trees to reduce the risk of landslides, and the relocation of a school to facilities built to minimize vulnerability to flood damage....Indeed, inclusive approaches often prove to be highly effective in solving all sorts of problems."

Chapter 4: Towards Cities Fit for Children (pages 48-65)

* "'Bottom-up' approaches are prevalent in many cities. Civil society organizations and community institutions - including, among others, houses of worship - are often closest to the issues of greatest importance to the most excluded communities. These issues may include water and sanitation, housing, health, education and childcare. In urban settings lacking effective formal Means of participatory decision-making, community organizations can enable citizens, including young people, to express their concerns. The challenge is to align the efforts of groups that work to alleviate the plight of the urban poor with those that focus on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable children."

* "In some cities, young slum residents are involved in surveying, documenting and mapping their urban surroundings, generating essential information for both their communities and municipal authorities. Such initiatives have helped build partnerships with official agencies in ways that enable young people to play a part in influencing the planning, finance and management of urban infrastructure. Children's community mapping has proved successful in pinpointing local needs and resources in places as diverse as Kolkata, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Karachi, Pakistan; and Cape Town, South Africa. Participatory approaches are not without their challenges. It may be difficult to ensure that the most marginalized children are adequately represented, and careful planning is needed to ensure that participation is not tokenistic."

* Focus on: Urban HEART - Measuring and Responding to Health Inequity (pages 52-53)

"The Urban Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool (Urban HEART) helps urban policymakers, communities and other stakeholders better understand the
local socio-economic factors that influence health outcomes. The tool is based on three essential elements: [i] Sound evidence...[ii] Intersectoral action for health: building relationships beyond the health sector in order to influence a broad range of health determinants... [iii] Community participation: involving community members in all aspects of the process, from planning, designing and
implementing interventions to helping ensure that these efforts are learned from
and sustained beyond the initial phase."

* Perspective: "Trafficked Children in Our Cities: Protecting the Exploited in the Americas", by Ricky Martin, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (page 54)

"I was moved to join the fight against trafficking when I visited India in 2002. In 2006 I launched Llama y Vive (Call and Live), a campaign that established and promoted prevention and victim-protection hotlines....Effective anti-trafficking laws must be passed in conjunction with work done by local protection offices. In order to do this, we urgently need governments, non-governmental organizations and multilateral agencies to work in concert to raise awareness, implement holistic training and guidance programmes for enforcement agencies and build effective systems to protect children and prosecute and punish perpetrators. Finally...[w]e must endeavour to create a safe environment that allows survivors to come forward despite the inherent difficulties."

* Focus on: The Child-Friendly: Cities Initiative - Fifteen years of trailblazing Work (page 56)

"The Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) - launched by UNICEF and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in 1996...taps into the wider acceptance of community participation in decision-making to promote local
accountability for children's rights. The International Secretariat of CFCI
has identified nine principal building blocks for local administrations aiming to become 'child-friendly'..."

* Focus on: Upgrading Informal Settlements in Jeddah (pages 64-65)

"One way to facilitate children's participation as stakeholders is to ask them to collect information about their surroundings. Again, differing preferences must be considered. Some girls may be reluctant or unable to voice their opinions in a meeting where boys, men or even older women are present, for example. Children and their families can also be included in core planning groups, where those most interested in the development of their area can represent their community and take part in decision-making."

Chapter 5: Uniting for Children in an Urban World (pages 66-75)

* "This chapter explores five key areas in which action is required if the needs and rights of nearly half of the world's children - namely, those who reside in urban areas - are to be fulfilled. These are: understanding the scale and nature of urban poverty and exclusion; identifying and removing the barriers to inclusion; putting children first within a broader pursuit of equity in urban planning, infrastructure development, governance and service delivery; promoting partnerships between the urban poor and their governments; and ensuring that everyone works together to achieve results for children."

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